With a track record of research into the problems of women, particularly minority women, in academia, Thomas came to CEW eager to broaden its constituency, not just to minority or low-income women and men but to parts of the campus, like the medical school, that had little contact with the center (CEW has initiated staff programs there). But fundraising and finances have consumed more time than she expected. In recent conversation with her boss in the provost's office, Thomas was told that the U-M will no longer fund career counseling for clients who don't work or study at U-M.
While Thomas knows of just one other university women's center that counsels people outside the academy, she believes, as her predecessor Carol Hollenshead puts it, that the service is a "very critical link between the community and the university." U-M, however, is reviewing all nonacademic units, and making small, annual cuts in their funding. Thomas is philosophical; she understands the university's pinched finances and that its central mission is teaching and research.
Like her peers at other nonacademic units, she's working to increase outside funding. Struck by the fact that the 350 or so regular donors include more ninety-year-olds than forty-year-olds, Thomas is trying to reach more younger women. CEW also plans to use more U-M student interns in fields like counseling and marketing. That will not only help financially, Thomas says, but demonstrate that CEW is "really adhering to the teaching and research mission" of the university.